OSU coach settles in to study 8-4 Missouri, of the Big 12 North
Don't expect Mike Riley to be an expert on Missouri football. Not yet.
The Oregon State coach will spend the next few days backgrounding himself on the Tigers, named Sunday as the Beavers' opponent in the Dec. 29 Sun Bowl at El Paso, Texas. For now, Riley knows as much as any faithful member of Beaver Nation who has gleaned information off the Internet.
'They must be pretty good, that's all I can say,' Riley says of the 8-4 Tigers, who finished second in the Big 12 North Division. 'We know they're pretty strong on both sides of the ball and have a prolific quarterback.
'No disrespect to Missouri at all, but when you get to this stage of the season, you don't really care (who the opponent is). It's a nice bowl game for the Beavers to be in. We know we'll be in for a good game.'
Missouri's offense is led by quarterback Chase Daniel, a 6-foot, 225-pound sophomore who completed 64.1 percent of his passes (271 of 423) for 3,197 yards and 26 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Daniel was twice named Big 12 offensive player of the week.
Tigers backed into bowl
Daniel's numbers reflect Missouri's propensity to put the ball in the air. His counterpart at Oregon State, Matt Moore, has had 61.1 percent accuracy (198 of 324) while throwing for 2,666 yards and 14 TDs with only six picks. Moore's nation-leading streak of consecutive passes without an interception stands at 144.
Missouri's leading rusher, tailback Tony Temple, has picked up 869 yards and five TDs on 173 carries. Oregon State's Yvenson Bernard's numbers (1,210 yards and 12 TDs on 273 rushes) show the Beavers have at least a little edge in offensive balance.
Missouri has lost three of its last four games, including 21-16 to 4-8 Iowa State. The Tigers fell 26-10 to Oklahoma and were beaten 34-20 by Nebraska.
Upon arriving in Corvallis on Sunday night after the 24th-ranked Beavers' satisfying 35-32 win at Hawaii, Riley set up a Monday meeting with his players, then gave them about 10 days off.
Riley left three assistant coaches - Mark Banker, Mike Cavanaugh and Joe Seumalo - in Honolulu for recruiting purposes. They'll stay until at least Wednesday. Riley will have seven assistants spread out on the West Coast recruiting next week before the brain trust gathers to begin focusing on Missouri.
A 10-win record's in reach
The 9-4 Beavers went against all odds to win at Hawaii, where the Warriors were 7-0 at home and playing for a lot of things - to complete an unbeaten season at Aloha Stadium, to protect their national ranking, to bolster QB Colt Brennan's Heisman Trophy chances and for revenge against former Hawaii offensive line coach Cavanaugh, whom some of his former players wanted badly to beat.
Riley says next to victories over Southern Cal and Oregon, the Hawaii game was the most meaningful win on the OSU schedule.
'Considering it came at the end of the season, how it played into a big game for Hawaii and the atmosphere at game time, it built into something more than just a 13th (regular-season) game,' he says. '(The Warriors) were fighting for a lot of things in that game, and it was a bowl-like atmosphere. It was just a great victory for our team.'
The Beavers, who have won seven of their last eight games, can cap a very successful season with a win over Missouri that would give them double-digit wins for the second time in school history.
'That's a big goal,' Riley says. 'The cry after the game in the locker room was, 'Let's go for 10.' '